If it shakes, it’s alive?

Created: Wednesday, 14 January 2015 Written by Xenox Science Desk
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For the last 50 years we have been busy sending spaceships and robots all-round the solar system on a search for extra-terrestrial life. But how will these devices know if something is alive when they meet it?

Hockey-ape

Artisit rendition of a possible alien lifeform

The usual means has been based on a chemical signature. But is this the only way to truly tell if something is living? In this intriguing paper, Kasas et al propose a new definition of life – If it moves it lives!

Detecting nanoscale vibrations as signature of life

Sandor Kasas, Francesco Simone Ruggeri, Carine Benadiba, Caroline Maillard, Petar Stupar, Hélène Tournu, Giovanni Dietler, and Giovanni Longo

Abstract: "The existence of life in extreme conditions, in particular in extraterrestrial environments, is certainly one of the most intriguing scientific questions of our time. In this report, we demonstrate the use of an innovative nanoscale motion sensor in life-searching experiments in Earth-bound and interplanetary missions. This technique exploits the sensitivity of nanomechanical oscillators to transduce the small fluctuations that characterize living systems. The intensity of such movements is an indication of the viability of living specimens and conveys information related to their metabolic activity. Here, we show that the nanomotion detector can assess the viability of a vast range of biological specimens and that it could be the perfect complement to conventional chemical life-detection assays. Indeed, by combining chemical and dynamical measurements, we could achieve an unprecedented depth in the characterization of life in extreme and extraterrestrial environments."

 

 

But what about here on earth? Can we also begin to use this new definition of living on our own blue ball? For if we do I reckon I have discovered some new ‘life’ of my own!

 

Take for instance my pecker. I’ve said for a long time that is has a mind of its own (or at least that’s what I’ve been telling me missus). I have had it wake up and start moving and shaking without any input from me. Just a casual glance up the escalator, or a look in the rear view mirror. You know the bloody thing will just stand up on its own and proclaim to the world “I’m here and I’m alive!”

 

dodgy scrotum

It's alive I tells ya!

 

And it would be entirely justified in saying that according to this new definition of life these Poindexters have come up with. 

 

So dear XenoxNews reader, what have you encountered that would be called 'living' by this new definition?